What to know before working with a photographer for the first time

Working with a photographer for either engagement photos, business head shots, side hustle pics, etc. can be, intimidating to say the least.

As I continue to build this side business of mine – personal training, group fitness instructing and (starting in June) health coaching – I knew I needed to up my website/Instagram game.

Here’s a few tips that helped me find the right photographer for me, plan accordingly and feel confident throughout the process:

Ask for recommendations from trusted sources.

I have quite a few fitness friends in Chicago, some of whom are part or full-time bloggers, so that helped A LOT when scouting a photographer. My pals Morgan and Mary Kate introduced me to Paige Babilla at their yoga event a few months back and I immediately felt a connection!

Paige has shot almost every fitness influencer (which I am not) in Chicago, so I knew she had street cred. J If you don’t have friends to reach out to, you could always post on social media or find photos on Instagram that you LOVE and see if the photographer is tagged. Easy as pie.

Scout locations.

For me, I didn’t have to go far for our shoot – I used my own kitchen and neighborhood to get some lifestyle, cooking and fitness shots. However, I realize everyone’s needs are different, so you might want to rent a studio or kitchen instead.

Another option is calling a fitness studio or local mom and pop coffee shop to see if you could use their space before or after their hours of operation.

Again, Instagram is so handy with its geo tags feature, which is a great tool when getting inspiration for your shoot!

Don’t be afraid to reschedule due to bad weather.

If it’s a rainy, snowy or super cloudy day, I’d definitely reschedule the photo shoot. This goes hand-in-hand with finding a photographer who you trust and won’t hold you to a specific date no matter what. You want a lot of natural light if you’re shooting indoors, and if you have an outdoor shoot, partly cloudy is best :)

Create conversation throughout the shoot.

The only reason my photos show me laughing and smiling are because I genuinely had fun! Your photographer’s job is to get you to feel comfortable, but your job is to be vulnerable. Ask your photog questions, be open to direction they give you and above all, enjoy it.

Remember that everyone starts somewhere – even Beyoncé has old Polaroid’s I’m sure will never see the light of day.

Prepare two outfits, with accessories.

Odds are, you’re paying an hourly rate for your photographer, so make the most of it!

For my fitness shots, I had some in just a sports bra and leggings, some with a tank top on, a few with sunglasses – all easy things to interchange, but they gave me a variety of photos to choose from in the end.

Action shots are your best friend.

I displayed some local produce I bought during a grocery haul, made a smoothie, chopped some veggies and squeezed a lemon during my shoots and couldn’t be happier with those photos.

It’s easy to stand somewhere and smile – which is totally cool – but I firmly believe pictures tell a story. When you’re doing something in the photo that reflects your personality or brand, that story will be better told than a static shot.

Don’t be too hard on yourself.

I’m still working on this one to be honest.

After seeing my photos, it was hard not to pick apart my perceived flaws. Be sure to have a trusted friend or partner around when you’re reviewing them to keep you in check!

Happy snapping!